Friday, May 23, 2014

Fielder Finished

Fielder is done, and in all likelihood so are the Rangers (NBCDFW)
Prince Fielder will go under the knife on Tuesday to repair a herniated disk in his back, an operation that requires 3-4 months of recovery time and thus ends his first season with the Texas Rangers. For the first time since 2005--his rookie season--the previously durable Fielder will finish a year with fewer than 157 games played.

The Rangers, you might recall, swapped Ian Kinsler for Fielder last fall in an effort to beef up their lineup. Fielder's elite power, on-base and run producing skills were supposed to give Texas a major threat along with Shin-Soo Choo Adrian Beltre in the heart of their order.

Instead, Fielder was a failure, batting just .247/.360/.360--numbers that were actually on the rise after his abysmal April. Cecil Fielder's son, who just celebrated his 30th birthday two weeks ago, showed no signs of resurrecting his vanishing power, managing only three home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games. Moving to Texas, and one of the best hitter's parks in baseball, was supposed to reverse his declining numbers.

Didn't happen. While all three of his home runs came at home, he batted a paltry .187/.333/.347 in 22 games there (as opposed to .307/.388/.373 on the road). Arlington is a hitter's paradise, but Fielder was unable to take advantage of it in his brief 2014 campaign (I have to imagine he'll hit better there next year). Meanwhile, Kinsler has unexpectedly flourished away from Arlington, putting up some of the best numbers of his career and helping the Tigers maintain their grip on the AL Central.

Fielder's injury has to be incredibly frustrating for the Rangers. Not just because they paid him $24 million for replacement level production (-0.3 bWAR), but also because they've been crippled by injuries. Geovany Soto, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Joe Saunders, Tanner Scheppers, and now Fielder, among others, are all on the Disabled List or done for the season (and don't forget that Beltre and Yu Darvish already missed time earlier this year). Decimated doesn't even begin to describe the Rangers' injury woes this season, and it's a miracle that Texas is only one game below .500 entering play today. Fielder's injury doesn't just leave a gaping hole in the middle of Ron Washington's order; it effectively dashes whatever hopes the fourth-place Rangers had of clawing back in the playoff race.

They were counting on Fielder to get hot and pick up the offense, which ranks second-to-last in the American League in home runs. They were waiting for his power stroke return as the weather heated up. They were hoping he would start resembling Prince Fielder, you know, the beastly slugger who made five All-Star teams and smacked 283 homers over the past eight seasons.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, they'll have to keep waiting.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a rebuilding trade idea. Alfaro's 21 now. Four years since being drafted. If he's still at high A, he can't be that exciting. Rangers could stand an upgrade behind the plate. Hector Sanchez is stymied on the Giant bench behind Posey. Insist on him as part of a Beltre trade package.